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Title: Sir Gawain and the Lady of Lys
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Internet Archive)



          SIR GAWAIN
           AND THE
         LADY OF LYS


        Translated by
      Jessie L. Weston.


        Illustrated by
     Morris M. Williams.


         Published by
      David Nutt at the
   Sign of the Phoenix 1907



      ARTHURIAN ROMANCES

   Unrepresented in Malory's
       "Morte d'Arthur"

          _No. VII_

      Sir Gawain and the
         Lady of Lys



ARTHURIAN ROMANCES

UNREPRESENTED IN MALORY'S "MORTE D'ARTHUR"

  I. SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.
    A Middle-English Romance retold in Modern Prose, with
    Introduction and Notes, by Jessie L. Weston. With Designs by
    M. M. Crawford. 1898. 2s. net.

  II. TRISTAN AND ISEULT.
    Rendered into English from the German of Gottfried of
    Strassburg by Jessie L. Weston. With Designs by Caroline
    Watts. Two vols. 1899. 4s. net.

  III. GUINGAMOR, LANVAL, TYOLET, LE BISCLAVERET.
    Four Lays rendered into English Prose from the French of
    Marie de France and others by Jessie L. Weston. With Designs
    by Caroline Watts. 1900. 2s. net.

  IV. MORIEN.
    Translated for the first time from the original Dutch by
    Jessie L. Weston. With Frontispiece and Designed Title-Page
    by Caroline Watts. 1901. 2s. net.

  V. LE BEAUS DESCONNUS. CLIGÈS.
    Two Old English Metrical Romances rendered into prose by
    Jessie L. Weston. With Designs by Caroline M. Watts. 1902.
    2s. net.

  VI. SIR GAWAIN AT THE GRAIL CASTLE.
    Three Versions from the Conte del Graal, Diu Crône, and the
    Prose Lancelot, by Jessie L. Weston. 1903. 2s. net.

  VII. SIR GAWAIN AND THE LADY OF LYS.
    Translated for the first time from Wauchier de Denain's
    section of the Conte del Graal by Jessie L. Weston. With
    Designs by Morris M. Williams. 1907. 2s. net.



  [Illustration: But the child spake no words, but looked up at
      the glancing sword blades and laughed blithely.]



Contents


                                        PAGE

    Introduction                          ix

    Sir Gawain and the Lady of Lys         1

    Castle Orguellous                     61

    Notes                                 99



Introduction


The stories contained in the present volume of _Arthurian Romances_
are drawn from the same collection of tales as that from which the
first visit of Gawain to the Grail castle, in the preceding volume of
the series, is derived. Indeed, the stories follow in close sequence,
and a glance at the introductory lines of the Grail visit will show
that that adventure is placed immediately after the successful
termination of the expedition against Chastel Orguellous, which forms
the subject of this volume. These stories practically form three
separate tales, and are translated almost entirely from the same MS.
as that used for the Grail visit, the fine _Perceval_ codex B.N.
12576. With regard to the second adventure a few words of explanation
are necessary.

The relations of Gawain with the lady of Lys, recorded in all the
_Perceval_-Wauchier texts, are as a rule related twice over; in the
first instance in the section which, in my _Perceval_ studies, I have
called the _Brun de Branlant_ section, as it is devoted to Arthur's
expedition against that recalcitrant noble. Gawain's meeting with the
lady takes place, as he here explains, during the siege. Later on, on
the expedition against Chastel Orguellous, related in these pages,
Arthur and his knights come all unwittingly to the castle of the
lady's brother, Bran de Lis, and Gawain, realising the position,
relates the story of the first meeting.

Now in the best and fullest texts the two versions do not agree--they
are, in fact, incapable of being harmonised--and the curious point is
that this second version, related by Gawain himself, and included in a
collection of tales of which he is the hero, represents his conduct in
a distinctly less favourable light. In the _Studies_ above referred to
I have entered at length into the question, and have expressed my
opinion that this second form is really the older, and owes its
somewhat repellent character to the fact that it is a survival of a
very early, pre-chivalric stage of tradition. It is worthy of note
that the subsequent conduct of both brother and sister is precisely
the same in both versions; whether Gawain accepts favours freely
proffered, or takes them by force, Bran de Lis is neither more nor
less his enemy; whether she wins her heart's desire, or is the victim
of _force majeure_, his sister is equally Gawain's devoted _amie_. But
for purposes of translation the versions do not stand on an equal
footing; and, these volumes being intended for the general public, I
have preferred to follow the later and, undoubtedly, more sympathetic
form.

Nor is this to take an undue liberty with the text; we are but
following the example set by certain early copyists. Two MSS., B.N.
794 and British Museum Add. 36614, give the story on each occasion in
an identical form. Their text, however, is on the whole far less
detailed and interesting than that of B.N. 12576. I have therefore,
for the terms of Gawain's recital, and for that only, adopted the
version of 794; for the rest the stories are as close a rendering as
may be of the text of 12576.

The first story, _Kay and the Spit_, and the taking of _Chastel
Orguellous_, all part of one and the same expedition, possess a
special interest for us, in that we have in our English _Gawayne and
Golagros_ another version of the same tales. Sir Frederick Madden, in
his _Syr Gawayne_, drew attention to this, and gave a brief summary of
the French text. It seemed to me that the interest of the story
itself, and its connection with our vernacular literature, were
sufficient to warrant a full translation being placed at the disposal
of English readers. For indeed the interest of these stories is great,
and if I be not mistaken, their importance as yet scarcely realised.
Since the publication of the last volume of this series we have become
aware of certain facts, small in themselves, but weighty in their
connection and _ensemble_, which go to prove that there existed at an
early date a collection of poems dealing with the feats of Gawain and
his kin, which may be styled _The Geste of Syr Gawayne_, the
authorship of which was ascribed to a certain Bleheris. Of this
collection the story in vol. i., _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_;
the first visit of Sir Gawain to the Grail castle, in vol. vi.; and
the stories here given all formed part, while our English _Gawain_
poems are a late and fragmentary survival of the same collection.

Judging also from the appearance on the scene of Gawain's son,
Guinglain, and the numerous allusions in Wauchier's text to the length
and importance of the _grande conte_ of which these tales formed a
part, it seems most probable that the original collection included a
version of the adventures of the hero we know as _Sir Libeaus
Desconus_, whose feats will be found recorded in vol. v. of this
series. The English poem there modernised says that the hero was
_begotten by a forest side_, thus apparently identifying him with the
child of the picturesque adventure related in these pages. At the same
time the adventures summarised by Wauchier--for he gives but little
detail concerning Guinglain--do not agree with the English tradition.
At a considerably later point of the collection, however, we find the
young knight giving his name in terms which accord completely with our
poem; on meeting his father,

    Sire, fait il, 'ie sui Giglain
    Votre fis, qui le roi Artus
    Mist nom Le Biax Desconeus.

Which may well refer to the tale we know.

This is not the place to enter into a discussion of the varying
tradition connected with Sir Guinglain; the point of interest is
rather the character of the stories with which we are immediately
dealing.

There can, I think, be little doubt that whoever was responsible for
the _Geste of Syr Gawayne_, and whether Bleheris, whose name is more
than once connected with it, composed, or merely arranged, the poems,
they represent a tradition of great poetical force and vitality. The
adventure with the sister of Bran de Lis is an admirable story,
picturesque, vivid, and full of human interest. Our _Syr Gawayne and
the Grene Knyghte_ is notoriously one of the finest of our Mediæval
poems. The visit of Sir Gawain to the Grail castle, related in our
last volume, yields in dramatic detail and picturesque directness of
narration to no other version of that mysterious story. We can well
understand that, in its original form, the collection must have been
one that appealed forcibly to the imagination of the hearers.

If any one will glance through these stories consecutively, he cannot
fail to realise that the character of the hero is the same
throughout. Gawain is unfailingly valiant, generous, and courteous,
even, as we see in our final story, to excess. We realise as we read
that, as Professor Maynadier, in his _Wife of Bath's Tale_, has well
pointed out, it is in truth Gawain and not Arthur who was the typical
English hero.

Is it too much to ask of the students of Malory, fascinated by the
noble style in which he has clothed and disguised the real poverty of
his _réchauffée_, that they should for a short time lay him aside, and
turning back to the true Arthurian legend, learn at last to do justice
to one of the most gracious and picturesque figures in literature--a
figure to which gross injustice has been done--that, rejecting
Malory's libel, they do tardy justice to our own insular hero--for not
the most fanatical partisan of the Continental school has ever
ventured to claim him--to the true Sir Gawain? Then, perhaps, we may
have a demand for his real story, and it may be possible once more to
rejoice the hearts of our English folk with a restored and modern
rendering of the _Geste of Syr Gawayne_, even as Bleheris told it well
nigh a thousand years ago. If that day ever come neither author nor
hero will need any apology on the part of the translator!

    Paris, _February 1907_.



Sir Gawain and the Lady of Lys


Hearken to me and ye shall hear how the good King Arthur and his
knights went forth to the wood for archery, and how at vesper-tide
they gat them homeward right joyfully.

The knights rode gaily ahead, holding converse the one with the other,
and behind them came the king, on a tall and prancing steed. He ware
no robe of state, but a short coat, which became him right well.

Behind all his men he rode, pensive and frowning, as one lost in
thought. And as he thus lagged behind Sir Gawain looked back, and saw
the king riding alone and pensive, and he bade his comrades draw rein
and wait for their lord. And as the king came anigh he drew his steed
beside him, and stretched out his hand, laughing, and laid hold on the
bridle, and said, "Sire, tell us, for the love of God, of what ye may
now be thinking? Sire, your thoughts should be of naught but good,
for there is no prince in this world equal to ye in valour or in
honour, therefore should ye be very joyful!"

The king made answer courteously, "Fair nephew, an I may be joyful I
will tell ye truly that whereon I thought. There is no king living on
earth who hath had such good and such great service from his men as I;
it seemeth to me now right and fitting that I should give to them that
which they have deserved for the toil they have suffered for me,
whereby I be come to such high estate. Fair nephew, I bethought me
that my riches would avail little if through sloth I failed to reward
the good service of these my knights, who have made me everywhere to
be obeyed and honoured. Now without delay will I tell ye that I am
minded to hold, at Pentecost, a far greater court than is my wont, and
to give to each and all such gifts as shall be well pleasing to them,
so that each may be glad and joyful, and ever hereafter of good will
towards me."

Swiftly, and before all the others, Sir Gawain made answer, "Fair
Sire, blessed be the thought into which ye have fallen, for 'tis so
fair and so good that neither kaiser nor king nor count might think a
better."

And the king asked, "Nephew, tell me straightway where do ye counsel
that this my court be held?"

"Sire, at Carnarvon; there let all your knighthood assemble, for there
is not in all your kingdom a fairer place, nor nobler halls, and it
lieth in the marches of Wales, and of the land of Britain."

The king and all his company rode back joyfully, and that selfsame
night did the king Arthur give command that all the knights and all
the barons throughout the land should be summoned by letter to come to
him at Pentecost.

That great knighthood came thither, that famous knighthood came
thither, even so have I heard, and assembled for this court at
Carnarvon.

Ah God! from what far-off lands did they come. Thither were come the
men of Ireland, and of Scotland, of Iceland, of Wales, and of Galvoie
(a land where many a man goeth astray). From Logres they came, and
from Escavalon; men of Norway, Bretons, Danes, and they of Orcanie.
Never was so great a knighthood assembled at any court as that which
the good king Arthur summoned to him.

The day of the Holy Feast, when he had worn his crown at the high
procession, knights and barons conducted him with joy to his palace;
and therewith Kay, the seneschal, bade them sound the trumpets and
bring water. First the king washed, and thereafter sat down aloft, on
the high daïs, so that all who sat there at meat might see him. Four
hundred knights, save three, sat themselves down at the Round Table;
at the second were seated the thirty peers. Crowded were the ranks of
the other knights who were seated throughout the hall, as was fitting,
on daïs, and at tables on the ground. Then quickly Kay the seneschal
bare the first meat, and the service was made throughout the hall, in
joyful wise, as befitted such high festivity.

Now as the king ate, he looked towards the Round Table, even as one
who would take knowledge of all, and by hap his eye fell on the seat
of a knight good and true, which was void and lacking its rightful
lord. Then so great a pity and tenderness took him that the tears rose
from his heart to his eyes, and thence welled forth, and he sighed a
great and piteous sigh when he remembered him of that knight. He took
a knife which Yones held (nephew was he to king Ydier, and carved
before Arthur), and, frowning and thoughtful, smote the blade through
the bread which lay on the board. Then he rested his head on the one
hand, even as one whose thoughts are troubled by anger or grief, and
unheeding, ran the palm of the other adown the sharp knife, so that he
was somewhat wounded. At sight of the blood he bethought himself, and
left hold of the knife and taking the napkin, wrapped it swiftly
around his hand, so that they who ate in the hall below might not see.
And with that he fell once more into thought and bowed down his head,
and as he mused the tears came again to his eyes.

When Sir Gawain beheld this he marvelled much, and therein was he
right, for to all who were in the hall it seemed but folly. Then he
rose up straightway, and passed between the ranks till that he came
before the daïs, and saw that the king was again lost in thought. He
hasted not to speak till that he saw him raise his head, but so soon
as he lifted up his face Sir Gawain spake right courteously; "Sire,
Sire, 'tis neither right nor fitting that ye should have such wrath or
displeasure as should make ye thus moody in the sight of so many high
and noble barons as ye may see here around ye; rather should their
solace and their company please and rejoice ye."

"Gawain, will ye that I tell ye whence came the thought which has made
me thus sad and silent?"

"Yea, Sire, that do I pray of ye."

"Fair nephew, know of a truth that I will tell ye willingly, in the
hearing of all these good knights. My thoughts were of ye, and of many
another whom I see here, of the wickedness of which ye are full, and
of the envy and the treason long time hid, and now made manifest."
With that the king held his peace, and said no more.

Sir Gawain grew crimson with anger and shame, and throughout the
palace all held their peace, for much they marvelled that the king
spake thus evilly to his nephew, calling him in the hearing of all a
traitor proven, and all were wroth therefor. Then he to whom the ill
words were said answered as best he might, "Sire, that was an ugly
word; for your honour bethink ye of what ye have said in the hearing
of all who be here within."

"Gawain," answered the king, "'tis no empty word, thus of a truth do I
repeat it, and Ywain may well take heed and know that I thought of him
but now, when I sat silent and pensive, here within have I not one
single comrade whom I do not accuse of treason and too great felony!"

With that I know not how many sprang to their feet, and a great
clamour filled the hall. "Lords," cried Tor fis Ares, "I conjure ye by
the oath which ye and I alike sware to king Arthur that ye restrain
yourselves, and act as is befitting; he accuses ye all of
treason--these be right evil tidings!" In like wise also spake Sir
Ywain. "Ah God," quoth Sir Gawain, "with what joy was all this great
court summoned and assembled, and in what grief shall it be broken
up!"

The king heard, and, sighing, spake, "Gawain, I have spoken but the
truth!"

"Fair Sire, for the love of God, and for honesty, tell us after what
manner and in what fashion we be felon and traitorous?"

Quoth the king, "An ye will I will tell ye; now hearken. Ye know of a
truth that aforetime there reigned in this land a folk who built
castles and cities, strong towers and fortresses, and the great
Chastel Orguellous did they fortify against us. When we heard tell
thereof ye, my knights, delayed not to go thither, not with my will!
There did I lose so many of my folk that the thought thereof yet
grieveth my heart; the greater part were slain, but some among them
were made captive. They took one of my companions, three years long
have they held him in prison, and thereof have I great grief at heart.
Here within do I see no better knight; he was beyond measure valiant,
fair of face and form, and very wise was he in counsel. But now, when
all this great lordship was set down here to meat, I beheld that
knight's seat void and lacking its lord, and for sorrow and grief was
my heart heavy and troubled when I saw him not in his place in your
ranks; it lacked but little that I were distraught. Therefore, my
lords, do I arraign ye all of treason; Giflet fis Do is he named that
good and gentle knight, three whole years have gone by since he was
imprisoned in that tower, and ye be all traitors who have left your
comrade three years and have not sought for or freed him! Yea, and I
who have blamed ye, I be even more the traitor in that I ever ware
crown, or made joy, or held high feast before I knew if he might be
restored to me, or where he now may be, whether dead or living! Now on
this have I set my heart,--by the faith I owe to that Heavenly Lord
who hath bestowed on me earthly honour, and kingdom, and lands, that
for no hap that may befall me will I delay to set forth in search of
him, be it in never so distant a land. For verily I tell ye all that
the king who loseth so good a knight by wrongful deed or by sloth, he
hath right neither to lands nor to honour, nor should he live a day
longer, an he deliver not that knight who for his honour suffered toil
and was made captive. In the ears of ye all do I make a vow that I
will lie not more than one night in any place till that I know whether
he be dead, or may be freed."

Then all cried with one voice, "Shame upon him, Sire, who will not
plead guilty to this treason, for ye speak with right and reason; by
overmuch sloth have we delayed to ride forth and seek him far hence,
even at the Chastel Orguellous."

"Lords," quoth the king, "I tell ye here and at once that I shall set
forth to-morrow, but by the faith that I owe to Saint Germain I must
needs proceed with wisdom, for here is force of no avail."

"True, fair Sire," answered Sir Gawain. "Know for sooth that the roads
'twixt here and the Chastel Orguellous be passing hard and difficult;
'tis a good fifteen days ere ye be come thither; longer days have ye
never ridden! 'Tis best that one tell ye the truth! And when ye be
come thither, fair Sire, then shall ye have each day battle, as I know
right well, one knight against the other, a hundred against a hundred,
that shall ye find truly. Now take good counsel for the journey, what
folk ye may best take with ye."

"Lords," said the king, "now let us to meat, and afterward will I see
by aid of your counsel whom I take with me, and whom I leave to guard
my land and my folk."

With that all in the palace, great and small, ate as quickly as might
be; and so soon as the king saw that 'twas time and place to speak he
bade remove the cloths, which they did without delay. Thereafter they
brought water, and bare round the wine in cups of fine gold. Then, it
seemeth me, there sprang to their feet at once more than three
thousand knights, who cried the king mercy, and prayed that he would
take them with him on this adventure, for right willingly would they
go.

"Lords," quoth the king, "they whom my barons elect, those will I
take, and the others shall remain to keep my kingdom in peace."

Then first, before all others, spake king Urien, a very wise knight
was he. "My Lord king, ye have no need to take with ye too great a
force; take with ye rather a few, but good, men, so to my thinking
will ye more swiftly free Giflet, our good comrade, from his prison.
Take with ye the best of your knights, 'twill be for your greater
honour, and your foes will be the more speedily vanquished; knight
against knight must ye fight there, and I think me that such of their
men shall there be worsted that they shall that same day yield ye
Giflet the good and valiant knight. Have no doubt for the when or how,
but bid them make ready. I can but praise the folk who shall go with
ye."

Then quoth the king, "What say ye, Lords? I await your counsel!"

King Ydier spake. "Sire, none of us should give ye praise, or speak
other than the best he knoweth. Shamed be he who should give ye
counsel wherein ye may find no honour. I know full well that the more
part of your folk would gladly go with ye, but if ye take them, Sire,
'twill not be for your honour, but believe king Urien, for he hath
given good counsel so I tell ye of a truth."

"Certes," saith Sir Gawain, "he would be false and foolish who should
give other rede!" And all said, "Let it be as the king will; let him
take those whom he please, and leave the others in the land."

"Ye have said well," said the king; "now go ye to your lodging, and
prepare to depart, and I will cause to be made ready a pennon of silk
for each of those whom I shall lead with me." As he said, so it was
done, and all betook them to their lodging.

The king forthwith sent the pennons, and bade them without fail be
armed and ahorse at dawn.

What more shall I tell ye? At sunrise were all the knights armed, even
as the king commanded, all they who had received the pennons came
together ahorse before the hall.

Now will I tell ye their names: there were Sir Gawain, king Ydier,
Guengasoains, Kay, and Lucains, the butler. The sixth was Tors. Then
Saigremors, and Mabonagrain, who was nephew unto king Urien. Eight
have I now named unto ye, counting the kinsman of king Urien. The
ninth was Lancelot du Lac; the tenth Ider, son of Nut; the Laid Hardi,
the eleventh; with Doon l'Aiglain have we twelve, all very courteous
knights. Galegantins the Galois, and the brave Carados Briefbras, who
was a right cheery comrade, made fourteen, and the fifteenth was the
good Taulas de Rogemont: so many were they, nor more, nor less.

All ready armed were they before the hall the while they awaited the
king, ere he came forth armed from his chamber. Then he mounted his
steed, and I tell ye that, to my knowledge, was never king so richly
armed afore, nor ever hereafter shall there be such. The queen bare
him company even to the entrance of the palace, then she turned her
back.

Then the king bade his companions march, and they began to move as
swiftly as might be on the highway, but so great a folk convoyed them
that hardly might they depart or go forth from the burg. And when the
king had ridden three miles he drew rein in the midst of a meadow, and
there he bade farewell to his folk, who, sad and sorrowful, gat them
back to the burg. And the king and his fifteen comrades rode on their
way; they passed even through the land of Britain, so I think me, and
hasted them much to ride quickly.

One day the king, fasting, came forth from a very great forest, on to
a heath of broom; the sun was hot, and burning, and the country over
large and waste. The king was so wearied by the heat, in that he rode
fasting, that he had much need of rest, could he but find a fitting
spot. By chance they found a great tree, where they drew bridle;
beneath was a spring, and for heat and for weariness they bared their
heads and their hands, and washed their faces and their mouths. I know
well that one and all had much need of food, but they had naught with
them, and all were sore vexed for the king, who suffered over much
from the fast.

Sir Gawain gazed into the plain, far below, 'neath the forest, and he
showed unto the seneschal a house of thatch, well fenced about; "Kay,"
quoth he, "methinks under that roof there must be folk!"

"'Tis true," said Kay; "I will go and see if I may find victual, and
ye shall await me here." With that he departed from them, and went
straightway to the house; within he found an old woman, but nothing of
what he sought; food was there none.

The crone spake and said, "Sir, so God help me, for twenty miles round
about are naught but waste lands, know that well, save only that the
king of Meliolant has built there below 'neath the trees a forest
lodge. He cometh thither ofttimes privately with his hounds. There,
Sir, will ye be well lodged, an ye find him; from that tree yonder may
ye see the house on the hill."

The seneschal straightway went even as the crone had said, and he saw
the dwelling, right well enclosed with orchards, vineyards and
meadows. Ponds were there, lands, and fish-tanks, all well fenced
about. In the midst was a tower; ye might ask no better, no defence
was lacking to it. Beholding it the seneschal stayed not, but passed
the roadway, and the gate, and the chief drawbridge, and thus came to
the foot of the tower. There did he dismount, but he found no living
soul of whom he might ask concerning the dwelling and who might be
within. Then he entered a hall, very high and long and wide. On a
great hearth he saw a goodly fire alight, but he found no man save a
dwarf, who was roasting a fat peacock ('twere hard to find a better!),
well larded, on a spit of apple-wood, which the dwarf knew right well
how to turn.

Kay came forward quickly, and the dwarf beheld him with evil
countenance. "Dwarf," quoth the seneschal, "tell me if there be any
here within save thyself?" But the wretch would not speak a word.

Kay would have slain him there and then, if he had not thought to be
shamed thereby, but he knew right well that twere too great villainy.

"Miserable hunchback," quoth he, "I see none here in this house save
thee and this peacock, which I will now have for my dinner; I will
share it as shall seem me good."

"By the King Who lieth not," quoth the dwarf, "ye shall neither eat
thereof yourself nor share it with others; I counsel you to quit this
hostel, or know ye well, and without doubt, that ye shall be right
shamefully thrust out!"

This vexed Kay mightily, and he sprang forward to smite him; with his
foot he thrust him against the pillar of the hearth so that the stone
thereof became bloody. The dwarf bled freely for the heat, and made
loud lament, for he feared lest he should be slain.

Then on the left the seneschal heard a door shut-to sharply, and there
came forth a knight, tall and strong, and of proud countenance, and
very fair and goodly to look upon; he might not be above thirty years
old. He ware a vest of new samite, furred with ermine for warmth;
'twas not long, but wide, and of ample folds. Thus was he well clad
and cunningly shod; and I tell ye truly that he ware a fair girdle of
golden links; no treasury hath a richer. All uncovered he came forth,
in guise of a man greatly wroth, leading two greyhounds by a fair
leash of silk which he held in his hand. When he saw that his dwarf
bled, he spake, "Ye who be come all armed into this hall, wherefore
have ye slain this my servant?"

"A curse upon such a servant," quoth Kay, "from this day on, for in
all the world is there not one so evil, so small, or so misshapen!"

Then the knight answered, "By all the saints, but ye say ill, and I
challenge ye for it, fair sir."

Quoth the seneschal, "Many a goodly knight have I seen, to the full as
noble as ye may be, and ye be evil and vexatious, even if I have
smitten this servant who roasted here this peacock, to speak thus
concerning the matter."

The knight answered frankly, "Sir, ye speak not courteously, but for
God's sake I would ask ye a mere nothing, even that ye vouchsafe to
tell me your name."

Kay spake in great wrath, "I will tell ye willingly, so help me God I
have told it ere this to five hundred knights better than ye be; know
of a truth that my name is Kay."

"Certes, sir, I may well believe that ye speak truly; by your speech
alone may one quickly know ye. This lad refused ye the peacock; 'tis
not the custom of my house that meat be refused to any who may ask
for it; ye shall have your share of the peacock, and that right
swiftly, so God help me!" With that he seized the spit, and raised it
aloft, and with great strength and force smote Sir Kay therewith, so
that he well nigh slew him, and know that he smote him on the neck so
that he must needs fall, he had no foot so firm that it might keep him
upright. And as the peacock burst asunder, the hot blood thereof ran
between the links of his hauberk in such wise that Sir Kay bare the
mark thereof all the days of his life. Then the knight threw the
peacock to his two hounds, and spake, "Sir Kay, rise, that be your
share, ye shall have no more; now get out of my sight quickly, I am
over wroth when I behold ye!"

With that came quickly two sergeants, fully armed, and led the
seneschal forth from the hall. He mounted his steed, and turned him
back, passing the bridge and the plain, and came to where the king had
dismounted.

Then his comrades asked him, "Seneschal, have ye found nothing of that
which ye went to seek?"

"Not I, my lords; 'tis a right evil land here wherein to seek for
food; it behoveth us to ride far, for here may we find nor hostelry,
nor victual--so hath it been told to me."

Quoth Sir Gawain, laughing, "Certes, he with whom ye spake lives by
meat, even as we; without meat might he not dwell in this great and
well wooded land."

"By my faith, no," answered Kay, "but I tell ye truly, 'tis so proud a
vassal that for naught that we may say will he give us shelter."

The king said, "Then is he right discourteous, and I counsel that we
send Gawain to him. Fair nephew, go, and we will wait ye here."

Sir Gawain mounted forthwith. What more shall I tell ye save that he
came straight to the dwelling, and when the knight saw him he made
marvellous joy of him, and asked his name, and he answered that men
called him Gawain, and straightway the knight knew him.

Then he told him his errand, saying, "The king is not far distant, and
would fain lodge with ye." This was well pleasing to the knight, and
he said, "Fair Sir, go, bring the king hither."

Then Sir Gawain rode swiftly back, and brought Arthur with him to the
hostel; but ere they might enter all the waters were set free and the
fountains 'gan to play. For joy and in honour of the king the knight
had assembled all his folk, and received him with very great honour,
and led him into the tower. The hounds were yet there, devouring the
flesh of the peacock. The king looked at Taulas, and quoth, "Body of
Saint Thomas, these two hounds have fared better than we to-day!" The
knight heard, and laughed to himself. Kay saw that, but said naught.

From thence they passed into the hall, and when they had disarmed the
meat was made ready, the knight bade bring white napkins, and pasties.
After dinner he made them wash their heads, and their necks, and their
feet, which were sorely bruised. Then he caused them to rest in fair
beds, covered with cloth of samite, and they slept even to the morrow
without stirring. But when they were awakened the host had prepared
for them a right plenteous meal, this he did of his good will. They
sat them down joyfully, and were richly served. I would weary ye if I
told all the dishes. The knights made much mirth of the seneschal's
burn, for the dwarf would not keep the tale secret from them, but
began to speak thereof. Never would it have been known through Kay, if
the dwarf had not brought it to mind, for he was over bent on hiding
it, and the host even more than he; all that night his comrades mocked
and made sport of him even till they betook them to rest.

Next morn, without delay, the king arose at daybreak, and likewise did
all the others, and armed themselves. Then the king thanked his host
for the good lodging he had given them.

Why should I make long telling thereof? The king saith, "Hide not from
me how ye be called."

"Sire, my name is Ydier the fair, and, Sire, this castle is mine own."

Then Ydier prayed the king that of his kindness he would take him with
him, but Arthur said he might not lead with him other save those whom
he had brought from his own land; and he took leave of the knight
since he might no longer abide in his hostelry, and went forth with
his companions.

The tale is here over long, but I will shorten it for ye. Two days did
they ride without food, for they might not sooner find place where
they might win food or seek lodging. Thus must they needs ride till
they came to the Orchard of the Sepulchres, where adventures be found
oft and perilous. There they ate with the hermits, of whom there were
a hundred and more. Here 'tis not fitting to tell of the marvels of
the cemetery, so diverse they be, and so great that there is no man
living on earth who could think, or believe, that the tale be true.
Since 'twas made and established never has the tale been told whence
came those graves, nor the custom which the hermits observed; to my
mind 'twould take too long did I tell it ye ere the fitting time and
place be come. But this will I tell ye of a truth, when the king had
sojourned two days, and beheld the Orchard, on the third, after meat,
he departed, and took the road once more.

On the morrow he came to a wondrous fair land; small need to seek a
richer in meadows, forests, or orchards planted with rare and diverse
trees. In the forest ways the grass grew green and tall, reaching even
to the horses' girths. Towards even-tide they came to a trodden way,
where the tall grass was beaten to earth, and trampled down by horses,
even for the length of a bowshot. "A hundred and more have passed this
way," quoth the king's men.

Sir Gawain spake to the king, "Fair Sire, follow me gently with these
my comrades on this wide road. I will ride on ahead, and seek out, and
ask whether there be near at hand hostel where we may lodge this
night, for of lodging have we great need. Yet, Sire, I pray that ye
leave not the road for word of any."

With that he set spurs to his steed, and rode swiftly on his way; nor
had he ridden long ere he was free of the forest, and saw before him a
hill, and a company of well-nigh a hundred horsemen, who rode in
knightly guise; 'twas on their track he followed.

Sir Gawain pressed on his steed, but when he had crossed the valley
and mounted the hill there was never a man in sight. But he saw before
him a castle; none so fair had he beheld afore, which stood on the
bank of a broad river; 'twould take me over long to tell the fashion
thereof, but this and no more will I say, 'twas the fairest ever seen.

Then Sir Gawain looked toward the river, and beheld two maidens, in
very fair vesture of purple, bearing pitchers of fine gold, wherein
they had drawn water, and he quoth, "Maidens, God save ye, and give ye
good speed!" and they answered, as was fitting, "Fair sir, God bless
ye!"

"Maidens, by the faith ye owe me answer me, and hide it not, what bear
ye in those pitchers?"

Quoth the one, "No need have we to hide aught; 'tis but water,
wherewith the good knight shall wash his hands."

"Of a faith," quoth Sir Gawain, "courteously have ye named him; great
honour is there in such a name!"

The second maiden answered, "Sir, she hath spoken truth; ye will not
lightly find a fairer, or a better, knight. See, but now doth he enter
within his burg."

Then Sir Gawain hasted, and spake no more with the maidens, but rode
over the bridge, and entered the castle by the gateway. Since the hour
of his birth never had he seen one so fair, nor, I think me, so long
as he live shall he see a fairer. All the way by which he passed was
hung with curtains richly wrought, whereat he marvelled strangely.
'Twas closed all along with fair buildings of diverse fashions. In
long rows adown the street Sir Gawain beheld rich booths of changers,
wherein on many-coloured carpets were set forth vessels of gold and
silver (no treasury ever held richer), cups, tankards, and dishes, the
fairest ever seen, with money of all lands: esterlins, besants,
deniers of Africa, and treasure trove. Every kind of money was there,
and much the good knight marvelled thereat.

Stuffs there were too, of all colours, the cost whereof was past his
telling. All the doors stood open; but one thing troubled Sir Gawain
sore: there was never a living soul to be seen.

Then he said within himself, "Of a sooth, for love and kindness do
they bear their lord, who but now hath entered the burg, company to
the little castle yonder." Thus he went his way straight to that
castle, and came within a goodly hall, both high and wide, and in
length equal to a bowshot. On every daïs a linen cloth was spread,
and sure never king nor count might eat off fairer or better wrought.
All was made ready for meat, and the bread and wine set in readiness
on the tables; but never a living soul was there. In a side chamber he
beheld on grails of silver more than a hundred boars' heads, with
pepper beside them, dressed for the serving. Sir Gawain beheld, and
crossed himself with lifted hand, but would no longer abide, finding
no man with whom he might have speech.

He turned him again through the castle, thinking to find at the
bridgehead the maidens of whom I told but now, whom he had left
bearing the water in golden pitchers, but nowhere might he find them,
and it vexed him sore that he saw them not, since he thought within
himself that they would surely have told him the truth concerning
their lord, whom he had seen but now enter the burg.

Much he mused thereon, repenting him that he had not longer spoken
with them, but now would he make no more abiding, but set him speedily
on his way, to meet the king. Nor did he draw bridle till he came unto
him.

"Fair nephew," quoth Arthur, "shall we to-day find hostel where we
may take rest, for we have sore need thereof?"

"Fair Sire, be at rest; food shall ye have now," answered Sir Gawain.

"'Tis a good word," quoth Kay; "right gladly will I serve the first
course unto the king, and to my comrades after!"

"Kay," saith Sir Gawain "not for all the world might ye guess the
marvels I have found!" Then he told unto them the adventure, even as
it had fallen out, the while he guided them to the burg. As they rode
adown the street the king marvelled greatly at the riches he beheld,
and Kay spake a courteous word,

    "Castle, he who hence might bear ye
    Would do ill an he should spare ye!"

Thus came they all into the inner burg, and, still ahorse, into the
great hall, but they found no man to whom they might speak, or to
whose care they might give their steeds. Then they said to each other,
"'Twere ill to let them fast," and the king spake, "I counsel that
after supper we go forth into yonder fair meadow."

This they held for good rede, and dismounted, making fast their
steeds to the stag's antlers on the wall. Then they washed their faces
and their hands in a bowl of silver, and the king sat himself down
first, and his knights after.

With no delay Kay set the first course before the king; 'twas a great
boar's head, and he bare it joyfully, and thereafter swiftly served
the rest, saying an any found cause for plaint, there was no lack, he
could have at his will. "The food hath cost me naught and I give it
freely; nay, of a verity we might, an we were so minded, feed our
steeds on boars' heads; this is no niggard hostelry! See ye the fair
couches in yonder chamber?" And he pointed to an open doorway.

Sir Gawain looked, and saw a shield hanging on the wall, and within
the shield yet stood the fragment of a mighty lance, with a silken
pennon hanging from it. I tell ye of a truth, so soon as he was ware
thereof the blood stirred in his veins; he spake no word, but swiftly
as might be he sprang up from meat, casting aside the knife he held,
and gat him to his steed, and girthed him tightly, and set his helmet
on his head, and sat him down again on a bench near by the daïs, his
shield beside him.

The king marvelled greatly, and the knights said the one to the other,
"Ha, God, what aileth Sir Gawain?" Each would fain know wherefore he
had armed himself thus swiftly; they thought of a surety his head had
grown light through over much fasting and the great heat of the day.
They were sore dismayed thereat, for they had seen and heard naught
that might give occasion for arming, and they might not guess the
cause.

The king spake simply, "Fair nephew, say, wherefore have ye ceased to
eat? And wherefore thus arm in haste? Ye make us much to marvel; tell
me, I pray, doth aught ail ye?"

"Naught, Sire, save that I pray ye to eat quickly, an ye love me!"

"How," quoth Arthur, "without ye, who have fasted even as we? Methinks
that were ill done!"

"By God and Saint Thomas, to eat here will profit me naught; ye are
wrong, Sire!" Thus answered Sir Gawain, swearing that for naught in
the world would he eat in this hostelry, neither might he be joyful
or at ease so long as they abode therein. "But I pray ye, Sire,
hasten and eat."

Then the king in the hearing of all sware straitly by Him who lieth
not, that he would eat naught till that he knew wherefore his nephew
had thus donned his helmet.

"Sire," quoth Sir Gawain, "ill and falsely should I have wrought if
for the telling of so slight a matter I should make ye fast this day;
certes I will tell ye, and lie not. Ye know well how five years agone
ye led an army great and strong against the city of Branlant; many a
king, many a baron, with twenty thousand men all told, with ye laid
siege to the city. Within were many of great valour to aid the lord
who held the seignorie of that land. One morn, at break of day, they
made a sortie on our host; the cry and clamour were so great that I
took no leisure to arm me, but mounted my steed and rode forth, even
as I was, to learn the cause of the tumult, bearing with me but shield
and lance. Thus I rode forth from the camp, and came straightway on
the men of the city, who were hasting to return with their spoil. I
followed them, wherein I did foolishly, since I came near to lose my
life thereby, for I was wounded by a spear in the shoulder, as ye
know, so that I was like to die, and must needs lie sick four months
and more ere that I was whole and sound.

"One morning, as I lay in my tent, I bade them raise the hangings
around that I might look on the land, and I beheld one of my squires,
mounted on the Gringalet, making his way from the stream where he had
watered the steed. I called him, and he came to me, and I bade him
without delay saddle the good horse, and he did my bidding. I clad me
swiftly the while, and bade them bring me my armour secretly, and when
I had armed me I mounted, and rode alone out of the camp. Fair Sire,
ye followed me, ere I came beyond the tents, praying me straitly to
return, but I entreated ye gently that since I had lain overlong sick
ye would grant me to go forth into the fields to disport myself, and
to test if I were in very truth healed of my wound, promising to
return speedily to camp. By this covenant, Sire, ye granted me to ride
forth.

"Thus I went my way till I came to a leafy grove, beset with flowers,
and abounding in birds, which sang loud and clear. I stayed my steed
to hearken, and for the sweetness of the song my heart grew light, and
I felt nor pain nor ill. Then I set spurs to my steed, and galloped
adown the glade. I found myself hale and strong, and feared no longer
for my wound.

"Thus I hearkened to the sweet song of the birds till that I forgat
myself, and passed a second grove, and a third, and a fourth, ere that
I bethought me of returning. Thus I rode till I came to a clearing
fair and wide, where I saw beside a fountain a pavilion, richly
fashioned. I rode even to the doorway, and looked within, and there on
a couch I beheld so wondrous fair a maiden that I was abashed for her
great beauty. Sire, I dismounted, and fastened my steed without the
tent and entered and saluted the maiden; but, Sire, first she greeted
Sir Gawain ere that she made answer to me.

"Then I asked her wherefore she did thus, and she answered that she
held Sir Gawain in honour above all knights, and therefore she first
gave him greeting. And when I heard this I spake saying that I was
indeed Sir Gawain, and her most true knight, but scarce would the
maiden believe me. I must needs unhelm, and from an inner chamber she
brought forth a silken ribbon, whereon a Saracen maiden of the queen's
household had wrought my semblance. And when she had looked thereon,
and beheld me disarmed, and knew of a verity that I was he whom she
desired, then she threw her arms around me, and kissed me more than a
hundred times, saying that she was mine even as long as she might
live.

"Then I took that fair gift right joyfully, and we spake together
long, and had our will the one of the other. And this I tell ye that
ere we parted I sware to her that other love would I never have. Then
when I had armed me again, and mounted my steed, I took leave of the
maid right lovingly, and turned me again for the camp, joyful of this
my fair adventure.

"Thus I rode swiftly through one grove, but had gone scarce a bowshot
beyond when a knight came fast behind me, marvellous well armed, and
bearing a lance with a fair pennon. He cried loudly upon me, 'Traitor,
ye may go no further; ye must pay dearly for my brother, whom ye slew,
and for this my daughter, whom ye have now dishonoured.' Then I
answered him, 'Sir Knight, ye might speak more courteously, for I have
done ye neither shame nor evil; an I had, I were ready to give ye what
amends might seem good to ye and to my lady; treason have I not done.'

"With that I set spurs to my steed, and he likewise, and we came fast
the one against the other, and his lance was shivered on my shield,
but my blade pierced him through shield and hauberk, so that he fell
to the ground sore wounded. Sire, I pray ye eat, for an I tell ye more
it may turn to evil." And the king quoth, "Nephew, say on speedily,
and delay not."

Then spake Sir Gawain, "Sire, I left the knight lying, and went my
way, but ere I had gone far I heard one cry upon me, 'Traitor, stay;
ye must pay for my uncle and this my father, whom ye have wrongfully
slain, and for my sister, whom ye have dishonoured!' Then I stayed my
steed, and prayed him to speak more courteously, for that I was ready
to make amends an I had done wrong, but that I was no traitor.

"Then we set ourselves to joust, and I tell ye, Sire, we came so hard
together that we were borne both of us to the earth. Then we betook
us to our swords, and dealt many a blow the one to the other; but in
the end, in that I was scarce healed of my wound, he dealt me more
harm than I might deal him; in this I lie not, I was well-nigh worn
down, and put to the worse. Then I bethought me, Sire, and prayed him
to tell me his name since I was fain to know it; and he told me he was
Bran de Lis. Ider de Lis, the good and valiant, was his father, and
Melians de Lis his uncle, and he said did I get the better of him,
then had I slain the three best knights in any land, yet he deemed
well, an God would help him, that he might even avenge the twain; for
he quoth, 'I know well that a combat betwixt us may not endure over
long, but that one of us must needs be slain.' And I answered, 'Sir,
let us do otherwise, for an ye put me to the worse but few will
believe the tale, for in this land it were not lightly held that any
man may vanquish me. Methinks 'twere better that our combat be fought
in the sight of many, who shall bear true witness as to the which of
us comes off the better.' Thus, Sire, we made covenant together by
token that in what place soever he should find me, whether armed or
unarmed, there we should fight. This we sware, the one to the other.
By the love I bear ye, Sire, never since that day have I heard aught
of him in any land where I might be. Thus was our combat ended, as I
tell ye, and of a truth I saw him no more.

"But even now, Sire, as I sat at meat, from which I arose in wrath and
misease (willingly would I have eaten an I might), this is what
chanced: I saw in yonder chamber the selfsame shield which Bran de Lis
bare the day we did combat together; full well I remember it, and
there it hangeth on the wall. Fair lord king, an God help me 'tis no
lie; there in the shield standeth fast my pennon, and a great splinter
of my lance; by that token, Sire, Bran de Lis doth haunt this country,
since his shield be here. Therefore am I vexed and wrathful, and
therefore I arose from meat, since I feared to be taken at a loss; in
sooth, I somewhat fear him, for so good a knight I never saw! Sire,
now have I told ye the truth, and wherefore I have donned my helmet,
ye need press me no further, since not for the kingdom of Logres
would I be found unarmed in such place as he may be. Fair Sire, I pray
ye hasten, otherwise, an there be long abiding, I may chance to pay
over dear for my meat."

Quoth the king, "Fair nephew, sit ye down again, nor have fear of any
foe. He cometh not."

But Sir Gawain answered, "Sire, for naught that ye may say will I eat
in this hostel!"

"So be it," quoth the king, "an ye will do naught for my prayer." With
that all the others betook them to meat in good fellowship.

After no long time they beheld a little brachet, which ran out from a
side chamber and came into the hall. A long leash trailed behind it,
and round its neck was a collar of gold, wherein were many precious
stones, red, and green as ivy leaves. The brachet was white as snow,
and smoother than any ermine. I tell ye of a truth 'twas not ugly, but
very fair and well shapen, and the king gazed long at it. It barked
loudly at the knights on the daïs, and made small joy of them, I tell
ye. Then Kay the seneschal coveted it, and spake to the king, "Sire,
I will keep this brachet, and take it hence, an ye grant me this gift;
'twill be a comrade for Huden." And the king said, "Take it,
seneschal, and bear it hence."

With that the brachet turned tail, and Kay with no delay sprang up and
thought to seize it, but the dog would not await him, but fled on
through a chamber wrought in marble, and the leash which was long fell
about the feet of Kay, who would fain have caught it but might not
come at it. Might he set foot on the leash he could have held it, but
he failed to catch it.

Thus the chase went from chamber to chamber till five were passed, and
the seneschal came into a fair garden set with olive trees and pines,
wherein were more folk than in a city. They were playing at diverse
games, and making such joy and festivity as 'twere overlong to
recount, for that day they were keeping the feast of a saint of that
land.

Beneath the shade of a laurel in the midst of an orchard a knight was
disarming; tall he was and strong, valiant and proud, and to serve him
and honour him the best and most renowned of the folk stood and knelt
around waiting on his disarming. The brachet which Kay was chasing
stayed not till it came to the knight, and took shelter betwixt his
legs, barking loudly at the pursuer.

Kay stayed his steps, abashed at the sight and sound of this folk, and
thought to return swiftly, and with no delay; but the knight looked on
his people and said, "There is a stranger among us, whoever he may
be!" Then beholding Kay, who would turn him again whence he came, he
spake, "See him there, take him, and bring him hither!"

This they did swiftly, and brought Kay before him, and when the knight
beheld him he said joyfully, "Sir Kay, ye are right welcome as my
friend and comrade; where is the king, your master?"

"Sir, he is within, on the daïs, and with him many a valiant knight;
they are even now at meat!"

"And is the king's nephew, Gawain, there? Fain would I be assured
thereof." And Kay answered, "The best knight in the world is in the
king's company; without him would he go nowhither!"

Now when the knight heard this he was like to fly for joy. Half armed
as he was he sprang to his feet, and for very gladness stayed not to
finish his disarming. A rich mantle had they hung on his shoulders,
but the neck was yet unfastened, nor would he tarry to clasp it, for
haste and joy. And know that one leg was still shod with iron, which
hung downward, half unlaced, nor would he stay to rid himself thereof.
Thus he sped in all haste to the hall, and his folk after him, and
without slacking speed he ran into the hall, followed by so great a
crowd that the king was sore abashed when he heard the tumult.

The knight went forward even to the daïs, and saluted the king
courteously, and commanded the folk to bring torches, for 'twas scarce
light therein, and they did at his pleasures, and he bade bring other
meats, so that Arthur, the valiant and courteous, was well served as
befitting a king.

The knight was very joyous, and quoth, "Sire, now hath God done me
great honour, for never before might I do ye service; now am I right
glad and joyful that ye be lodged here! I have greeted ye in all fair
friendship without thought of ill, ye and this goodly company, save
one whom as yet I see not!"

With that there entered men bearing torches and tapers, so that the
hall, which before was dark and dim, became light and clear. The folk
who had come thither that they might look upon the king, of whom they
had oft heard tell, made such haste to see him that there was no space
to sit down, and all the palace was but a sea of heads.

The lord was sore vexed. He held in his hand a little round staff,
short and heavy, and being chafed with anger in that he saw not Sir
Gawain, and knew not where he might be, began laying about him to part
the crowd, making them by force to mount on the daïs, and sills of the
windows, and buttresses of the walls, since he might not drive them
from the hall.

When Sir Gawain saw that the folk was thus parted asunder, without
delaying he mounted him on his steed. Then first the lord of the
castle beheld him, and was sore vexed that he had not come upon him
disarmed. Scowling for very anger, he threw his staff aside, and when
he had somewhat bethought him he lifted his head, and gat him to Sir
Gawain, and laid hold of his bridle, saying, "Fair sir, hearken, are
ye ready to keep the covenant ye made with me? It vexeth me that ye
are so far quit that I have failed to find ye disarmed, as I fain had
done; I had better have been slain the day I made this compact, for
then, verily, ye too had died, had I not granted the respite, but now
I deem our battle shall last the longer!"

Sir Gawain straightway granted him his battle, and the knight bade
bring more torches, for the stars already shone forth. Then they
brought them in great plenty, and he told off folk to hold them by the
fist full, so that one might see far and near, as clearly as might be.
Then the lord of the castle seated himself in the midst of the hall,
on a great carpet, which a squire spread swiftly at his bidding, and
he bade them bring thither all that was needful to the rightful arming
of a knight desirous of battle rather than of aught beside. He donned
a greave of iron, and relaced that which hung loose; then he bade them
bring armpieces, and he laced them on his arms, and when he had done
this he came before the king and said, "Eat joyfully, and be not
dismayed; behold me, that I am strong and bold, hale and swift. Your
nephew on his part is even as I am; I know not if he hath told ye how
the matter be come to this point that the one of us must needs die ere
we be parted. 'Twere hard to think this morn that the one of us was so
nigh unto his end!"

Then the king's eyes filled with tears, and the knight, beholding,
spake in his pride: "Certes, Sire, I prize ye less than afore; ye are
but half-hearted who are thus compassionate for naught; by all the
Saints in the calendar, ye be like unto him who crieth out afore he be
hurt! Never before did I set eyes on a king who wept, and knew not
wherefore! By my faith, this cometh of a cowardly heart!"

He turned him again without further word, and armed him swiftly, and
did on his harness, and when he was armed he mounted his steed, and
bade bring a lance, stout and strong, with shining blade. Then he hung
his shield on his neck by a broidered band, and settled him well in
his saddle, and called unto Sir Gawain, and quoth, "Here in this
house is the lordship mine by right of heritage, yet would I do no
outrage nor take vantage thereof; the rather do I bid and conjure ye
to take that part of the hall which seemeth best; now look well where
ye will make your stand."

Sir Gawain hearkened, but stirred not, save that he drew somewhat
back, and lowered his lance, and his foe, on his part, did likewise. I
testify of a truth, and tell ye, that they rode over hard a joust, for
as they came together at their horses' full speed the one smote the
other so fiercely on the shield that both alike were split asunder, so
that the sharp blade passed right through, yet they harmed not the
hauberks which clung close and tight. Thus as they sped on the lances
bent and brake, yet the steeds stayed not, and the knights who
bestrode them were naught dismayed, but when they would have passed
each other in their course they came together with such weight of body
and shield, and full front of the horses, that they smote each other
to the ground, and all four fell on a heap, the good steeds undermost.
But the knights lightly sprang to their feet, and threw aside their
lances, and drew their good swords, and dealt each the other so
mighty a blow on the shining helm that it was well indented. The king
and they who looked on were sore anguished and afraid, but the twain,
'twixt whom there was such enmity, ran again on each other in such
fashion that, I tell ye and lie not, never was so fierce a mêlée of
two knights beheld. They made sparks to spring from the helmet and
smote the circlets asunder as those who make no feint to fight. When
the good swords smote the shields they made the splinters to fly
apace: so eager was each to put the other to the worse that they
ceased not nor slackened this the first assault till that both were
covered with blood. Then the heat which vexed them mightily made them
perforce draw asunder, to recover breath. Too heavy and too sore had
been their combat for those who loved them to behold; never day of his
life had King Arthur so feared for his nephew.

Now at the head of the master daïs was a door, opening into an inner
chamber, and, as the tale telleth, in a little space there came forth
a damosel, so fair of face and form that Christendom might not show
her peer. She was clad in fair and fitting fashion, in a vesture
richly broidered in gold, and had seen, perchance, some twenty
summers. She was so fair, so tall and gracious, that no woman born
might equal her, and all marvelled at her beauty.

She leant awhile on the head of the daïs, beholding the two knights,
who strove hard to slay each the other. They had returned to the
onslaught in such pride and wrath that verily I tell ye they might not
long endure. Such blows they dealt on helm and shield with their naked
blades that they made the splinters fly, and the crimson blood welled
from their wounds and streamed through the mail of their hauberk down
on to the pavement. Nor was the fight equal, for Sir Gawain had broken
the laces of his helm, so that 'twas no longer on his head, but lay on
the ground at his feet. Yet he covered himself full well with his
shield, as one who was no child in sword play. But his foeman pressed
him sore, and oft he smote him with hard and angry blows; Sir Gawain
defended himself right valiantly, but it went too ill with him in that
he had lost his helm, therefore as much as might be he held himself on
the defensive. But once, as he made attack, Bran de Lis smote him so
fierce and heavy a blow at his head that, but that it fell first on
the shield, it had then and there ended the matter, and all said that
without fail he had been a dead man. Bran de Lis spake wrathfully,
"Take this blow for mine uncle; ye shall have one anon for my father;
if I may, it shall be the last!"

Sir Gawain struck back, but he was sore hindered by the blood which
ran down into his eyes ('twas that which vexed him the most); he would
fain have drawn him back, but Bran de Lis left him no space, so
wrathfully did he run upon him, and Sir Gawain withstood him sturdily,
yet so hardly was he pressed that whether he would or no he must needs
yield ground.

Then the damosel of whom I spake but now turned her, and ran swiftly
into the inner chamber, and in a short space came forth with a little
child, whom she set upon the daïs. He wore a little coat of red
samite, furred with ermine, cut to his measure; and of his age no
fairer child might be seen. His face was oval and fair, his eyes
bright and laughing; he was marvellous tall and strong for his age,
which might not be more than four years; and by the richness of his
clothing 'twas clear that there were those who held him dear.

The knights who fought below still dealt each other such mighty blows
that all who beheld them had dole and wrath. I can tell ye each was
weak and weary enow, but verily Sir Gawain had yielded ground
somewhat, and would fain have wiped away the blood which ran adown his
face and into his eyes, but he might in no wise do so, since Bran de
Lis held him so close, doing what he might to slay or wound him.

Then without delay the damosel took her child, there where he stood
before her, and said very softly, "Fair little son, go quickly to
yonder tall knight, 'tis thine uncle, doubt it not, fall at his feet,
little son, and kiss them, and pray for God's sake the life of thy
father that he slay him not!"

Straightway she set him on the ground, and the child ran, and clasped
his uncle by the right leg, and kissed his foot, and said, "My mother
prays ye for the love of God, that ye slay not my father, fair sweet
uncle; she will die of grief an ye do!"

Great pity fell upon the king when he heard the child speak thus, and
all who hearkened and beheld were filled with wrath and anguish. All
had compassion on the child, save Bran de Lis alone, for he quoth in
wrath and anger, "Get thee hence, son of a light woman!" and he
withdrew his foot so swiftly from the child's clasp that, whether he
would or no, he fell, and smote face and forehead hard on the stone of
the pavement, so that he grazed mouth and face, and lay senseless and
bleeding on the floor.

Then King Arthur sprang from the daïs, and caught the child to him,
and kissed it twenty times on face and eyes and mouth, and wept for
very anger; nor for the blood on the child's face would he cease to
caress it, so great love had he towards it, for he thought of a truth
that he held again Gawain, whom he now counted for lost. He quoth,
"Sir Bran de Lis, this little child is very fair; never in your life
did ye do such villainy as to go near to slay so sweet a child, nor
ought ye to have denied the request he made, for he asked naught
outrageous. Nor will I have him slain, for he is my joy and my solace;
henceforward know well that for naught will I leave him in your care!"

Quoth Bran de Lis, "Sire, ye are less courteous than I had heard
tell, and ye make overmuch dole and plaint for the life of a single
knight; ye should not so be dismayed, this is naught but feebleness of
heart."

As Bran de Lis thus spake to the king Sir Gawain wiped off the blood
which ran down his face, and bound up his wounds, the while he had
respite; the king, who was wise enow, held his foeman the longer in
speech that his nephew might be the more refreshed, for the strength
and valour of that good knight doubled as midnight passed. For this
was the custom of Sir Gawain: when as ever midnight had struck his
strength was redoubled and he waxed in force even until noon.

Now so soon as his strength came again, and he saw the king, and his
love, and the great folk who beheld them, then a mighty shame overtook
him, and he ran in wrath on his foe, and assailed him straitly, but
the other yielded not, crying, "Honour to ye that ye thus seek me!"

Then might ye see them smite blows great and fierce, with the swords
they wielded, so that they were well nigh beaten down. Sir Bran de Lis
smote a mighty blow, thinking to catch Sir Gawain on the head, but
that good knight, who knew right well how to cover himself, held his
shield in such wise that the stroke fell upon it, and split it adown
the midst; so hard had he smitten that the blade entered even to the
hilt, and his body following the blow he bent him forwards, and ere he
might recover him Sir Gawain smote him full on the helm, so that the
laces brake, and it flew off adown the hall, leaving the head bare.
And ere Sir Bran de Lis was well aware he followed up the blow with
one above the ventaille so that he bled right freely. Now were they
again on a par, so that one might scarce tell the which of them had
the better. In great pride and wrath they ran each on the other, so
that in short space of time they had lost overmuch blood. Mightily
each strove to put his foe to the worse, and all who looked upon them
waxed strangely pitiful, and would fain have parted them asunder had
they dared.

Now might ye have seen that gentle knight, who full oft had made
offering of good deeds and alms, right well acquit himself, for so
sorely he vexed his foeman that he hacked his shield all to pieces,
and he might no longer hold his ground, but whether he would or no he
must yield place, and wavered backward adown the hall. Then he smote
him again, so that he tottered upon his feet, and Sir Gawain hasted,
and threw himself upon him with such weight of body and of shield that
he well nigh bare him to earth, so he drave him staggering adown the
hall till he fell against a daïs.

When the damosel saw this she tare her child from the king's arms, and
ran swiftly, and threw herself right valiantly betwixt the two, so
that she came nigh to be cut in pieces, and cried, "Son, pray thy
father that he have pity on thy mother, and stay his hand ere he slay
my brother, whom I love more than mine own life!" But the child spake
no word, but looked up at the glancing sword blades, and laughed
blithely. And all were moved to pity and wrath who saw him anon
bleeding and now laughing for very joy.

Then Sir Gawain, of right good will, drew himself aback, but he whom
he had thus hard pressed drave forward at him, like one reft of his
senses, and came nigh to doing him a mischief in that Sir Gawain was
off his guard. Then she who held the child sprang swiftly betwixt
them, and cried, "Now by God I will see the which of ye twain will
slay him, for he shall be cloven asunder ere that I take him hence."

The swords clashed together aloft, but wrought no ill, for neither
might come at the other for fear of the child whom they were loth to
harm, and for fear of her who held him. And the child laughed gaily at
the glancing swords, and stretched up his hands to his own shadow,
which he saw on the shining blade, and showed it with his finger to
his father when he saw it come anear, and had fain sprung up and
caught the blades, sharp though they might be. And many a man wept,
and there arose within the hall a great cry, as of one voice, "Good
lord king, stay the fight; we will all aid thee thereto, for no man
should longer suffer this!"

Then Arthur sprang up swiftly, and seized his sword and shield, and
came unto the twain, and parted them asunder, whether they would or
no, and said to the knight ye have heard me praise, "Sir, take the
amends offered, and I tell ye truly I will add thereto, for I myself
will do ye honour, and become your man, for the sake of peace." And
all cried with one voice, "Sir, by God and by the True Cross, ye shall
not refuse this, for the king has spoken as right valiant man." Then
the knight held his hand, hearing that which pleased him.

Thus was peace made, and the battle parted asunder, and Sir Bran de
Lis did right sagely, for he spake, "Sire, it were nor right nor
reason that ye should become my man, hence will I do ye true homage,
but for hostage will I ask the knights of the Round Table, who are the
most valiant in the world; also shall your nephew do other amends,
even as he promised me, in abbey and nuns, for the repose of my
father's soul, and ye shall free one hundred serfs with your own
hand." And the king answered, "Know of a truth that all shall be done
at my charges."

Then Bran de Lis did homage to the king, and kissed him in all good
faith, and then came forward Sir Gawain, and he humbled himself before
him, kneeling at his feet, and praying that he would pardon his ill
will; and Sir Gawain took him by the hand, and raised him up, and
quoth, "I pardon thee all, and henceforth will I be your friend in all
good faith and courage, nor will I fail ye for any harm ye may
aforetime have done me."

Both were sore faint and feeble, and void of strength by reason of the
blood they had lost, so that scarce might they stand on their feet
without falling to the ground. They bare them to an inner chamber;
never knight nor maiden entered within a fairer, for I tell of a truth
there was no good herb in Christendom with which it was not strewn.
'Twas richly garnished, and four great tapers, cunningly placed, gave
fitting light. Then leeches searched their wounds and said there was
no need for dismay, for neither was wounded to the death, and within
fifteen days both might well be healed, and all were joyful at the
tidings.

The king and his barons abode the fifteen days at the castle of Lys,
nor departed therefrom; in all the world was neither fish nor fowl,
fruit nor venison, of which the king might not each day eat in plenty
if he so willed. But he was loth to part from Sir Bran de Lis, by
reason of the good tales which he told concerning the folk of the
Castle Orguellous, whereat the king rejoiced greatly.

"Sire," quoth Bran de Lis, "I myself will go with ye, and we will take
with us squires and footmen. My pavilion is large and fair, and by
faith, we will carry that too along with us; and also a pack of
hounds, the best we may find, for there be thick forests all around,
where we may hunt at our will, and go a-shooting too, an it please us,
for we shall find great plenty of deer and other game."

Sir Gawain took little heed of all he said, so wholly was he taken up
with his lady, and she forgat him not, but was ever at his service, at
any hour that might please him; 'twas all gladness, and no ill
thought. Nor did Sir Gawain mislike his fair son, whom he caressed
right often. Fain would he have tarried long time with them. Nor
marvel at that, my masters, for he was there at ease, and he who hath
whatsoever he may desire doeth ill methinks to make over haste to
change, nor will he make plaint, since he suffereth nor pain nor ill.

But when the fifteen days came to an end, then did the king bid make
ready, for he had no mind to tarry longer; well I know 'twas a Tuesday
morn that they set them on their way, and with them went that good
knight, Sir Bran de Lis.



Castle Orguellous


For seven full days King Arthur and his men journeyed, and passed
through many a forest ere they came into the open land and saw before
their eyes the rich Castle Orguellous, the which they had greatly
desired to behold. They who had gone ahead had already pitched the
king's pavilion in a fair meadow nigh unto a grove of branching olive
trees, very fair and full of leaf. There the king, and they who were
with him, dismounted gladly; they might go no further, since 'twas
well known in the land that they came to make war on the castle.

They had made no long abiding when they heard a great bell toll--no
man had ever heard a greater--five leagues around might the sound be
heard, and all the earth trembled. Then the king asked of him who knew
the customs of the castle wherefore the bell tolled thus.

Quoth Bran de Lis, "Of a truth, 'tis that all the country round may
know that the castle is besieged, till that the bell be tolled nor
shield nor spear may be set on the walls, the towers, or battlements."
As he spake thus they saw to the right more than five thousand banners
wave from the walls, the towers, and donjon, and as many shields hung
forth from the battlements. Then they saw issue forth from the forest
on to the plain knights mounted on palfreys and war-horses, who made
their way by many roads to the castles; right gladly did the king and
his comrades behold them.

I will not devise unto ye all the fashion of the castle, I must needs
spend overmuch time thereon, but since the birth of Christ no man ever
saw one more fairly placed, nor richer, nor better garnished with tall
towers and donjon.

Now was meat made ready in the king's tent, and all sat them down to
supper in right merry mood; they said among themselves that enough
knights were entered into the castle to give work to each and all.
Thus they spake and made sport concerning those within.

So soon as the king had sat him down Lucains the butler poured the
wine into a golden cup, and spake unto the king, "I pray the right of
the first joust that be ridden to-morrow morn, for it pertaineth unto
mine office!" Quoth the king, "I were loth to refuse the first gift
prayed of me here in this land." "'Tis well said," quoth the lord of
Lys. And the king said to the butler, "Go, eat with my nephew," and he
did so right gladly.

So soon as supper was done, and they had washed, swiftly they
commanded their arms to be brought, nor will I lie to ye; thereafter
might ye have seen a great testing, many greaves of iron laced on,
limbs outstretched, feet bent; squires were bidden don the hauberks
that they might look well to them, and add straps or take away--all
were fain to see that naught was lacking, but all in fair and knightly
order. Ye never saw a folk thus busy themselves. They made merry with
the king the while, and prayed of him in sport to say the day he would
allot to each, that their pain might be the sooner ended. "Nay,
lords," quoth Arthur, "I would fain keep ye the longer in dread." Thus
when they had made sport enow, and it was nightfall, they drank, and
betook them to rest.

On the morrow, without delay, they arose at sunrise, and betook them
to a chapel in a wood, nigh to a meadow where were buried all the good
knights slain before the castle, whether strangers or men of the land.
And so soon as the priest had said the Mass of the Holy Ghost, and the
service was ended, they turned them again, and made ready for meat in
the king's pavilion, and the king and all his knights ate together
right joyfully. When they had eaten they arose, and armed Lucains the
butler well and courteously. The vest he ware under his hauberk was of
purple broidered with gold. Then they brought him his horse and his
shield, and he mounted right glad and joyful, and they brought unto
him his pennon. Thus he departed from the king and his comrades, and
set spurs to his steed, and stayed not till he came unto the field of
battle, whither they betook them and demanded joust of those of the
castle.

Masters, at the four corners of the meadow were planted four olive
trees, to show the bounds of the field, and he was held for vanquished
who should first pass the boundary of the olives. Since he had come
thither armed, it befell not Lucains to await long, but short space
after he had entered the field he saw ride proudly forth from the
castle a great knight, mounted on a roan steed, right well appointed
of arms and accoutrements. He came at full speed to the meadow, and
swiftly, as befitted, each lowered his lance, and set spurs to his
steed, and rode the one against the other. Great blows they dealt on
each other's shield, and the knight smote Lucains so fiercely that he
brake his lance all to shivers, and the butler smote back in such wise
that he bare him out of the saddle on to the ground. Then he took the
steed, and turned him, leaving his foeman afoot, and came gladly and
blithely again to the pavilion. Quoth Bran de Lis, "Certes, butler,
the siege had been raised had ye brought yon knight captive, nor would
ye have had further travail, for the quest on which ye came hither had
been achieved, and ere nightfall Sir Giflet had been delivered up, for
yonder is so good a knight they had gladly made the exchange!"

When the butler heard this he was ill-pleased, and he tarried no
longer at the pavilion, but leaving the steed gat him back to the
meadow, nor turned again for the king, who many a time called upon
him. Then from the gateway rode forth a great knight bearing his
pennon, and came spurring into the meadow, and when the butler saw him
he rode against him, and smote him so fiercely on the shield that the
shaft of apple-wood brake, and the knight smote him back with so
strong a lance that he bare him to the ground. Lucains sprang up
swiftly, and thought to take the splinters from his arm without
delaying, but the knight ran upon him fiercely, and he defended
himself as best he might, though wounded, but since the blade was yet
in him, whether he would or no, he must needs yield himself prisoner,
as one who might do no more. Thus he yielded up his sword to the
knight, who led him with him to the castle, but first he drew out the
blade carefully, stanching the blood, and binding up the wound.

Very wrathful was the king when he saw his butler thus led thence;
then quoth Sir Gawain, "Certes, an Lucains were whole I should rejoice
in that he is captive, for now will our comrade Giflet, the brave and
valiant, who hath been there in durance four years, learn such
tidings of us as shall make him glad and joyful. The butler is a right
gallant knight, and it may chance to any that he be overthrown and
wounded. I have no mind to blame him for such ill hap." Sir Bran de
Lis answered, "Fair Sir, an God help me, he hath overthrown one of
their men, and I know no better among their ten thousand knights." So
spake Sir Bran de Lis, but for all that was he somewhat vexed
concerning the butler, in that he had reproached him for not having
taken the knight captive, for he thought in his heart that for these
words of his, and for naught else, had Lucains been taken.

Then he came unto the king, and besought him for the great love he
bare him to grant him the morrow's joust; but though he prayed him
straitly the king was loth to yield, but answered that in no wise
would he grant his request save that he was fain not to anger him by
reason of the true faith that he bare unto him. "So God help me, fair
friend; I have it in my mind that I were but ill sped did I chance to
lose ye!"

"Sire, think not of that; 'tis ill done to summon evil, an God will
this shall not befall so long as I live; doubt ye not, Sire, but grant
me the fight freely, ere others ask it!"

Then the king quoth, "Have your desire, since ye so will." With that
they gat them to meat in the tent, but that day a butler was lacking
to them.

Into that selfsame chamber where that good knight, Giflet fis Do, had
long lain, they led Lucains prisoner, and Giflet when he beheld him
failed not to know him, but sprang up, and embraced him, and asked
straightway, "Tell me, gentle friend, in what land were ye made
captive?" Then Lucains told him the truth from beginning to end, how
the king had set siege to the castle, and was lodged without, "And he
hath sworn he will not depart hence, nor lift the siege, till that he
hath freed ye." Giflet was right joyful when he heard this, and he
spake again, "Sir Lucains, greatly do I desire to hear from ye tidings
of the best knights in the world, even the companions of the Round
Table; 'tis over long since I saw them, or heard speak of them." And
the butler made answer, "Sir, by all the Saints in the calendar, such
an one is dead, such an one made captive, this and that knight are
hale and whole, and to the places of the dead many a good knight and
true hath been elect." And Giflet cried, "Ah, God, how minished is
that goodly company; I know not the half of them who yet live!"

Quoth Lucains, "Know of a truth that all greatly desire to have ye
again, nor will they know joy in their hearts till that ye be once
more of their fellowship."

At these words they brought them food, and they washed, and ate, and
when 'twas time they gat them to rest, and passed the night in great
joy of each other's company. But the night was short, since Pentecost
was past, and the feast of S. John, when the days are the longest in
the year.

On the morrow the sun rose fine and fair, for the weather was calm and
clear, and the king arose betimes with his comrades. First they gat
them to the chapel and heard Mass, and then dinner was made ready,
since to eat ere noon is healthful for the brain. The dinner was rich
and plentiful, they sat them down gaily and ate with speed, they had
larded venison (for of deer was there no lack), and so soon as they
had dined the chamberlain armed the lord of Lys right richly, on a
fair flowered carpet, and the king himself laced his helmet. Then Sir
Bran de Lis mounted and hung the shield about his neck, and took his
lance whereon was a pennon, and spurred straight for the meadow, which
he knew full well.

Then from the gates of the castle he beheld issue forth a knight on a
gallant steed, right fittingly armed, who rode at full speed to the
meadow where Sir Bran de Lis awaited his coming. And so soon as each
beheld the other they spurred swiftly forward, and I tell ye of a
truth that they smote each other on the shield so that their lances
brake, and they came together with such force that they hurled each
other to the ground; but they lay not there for long, but sprang up
anon, and laid to with their swords, dealing each other mighty blows
on the gleaming helmets, for the worser of the twain was a gallant
knight. But he of the castle was sore vexed, in that he was wounded
while Bran de Lis was yet whole, and passing light on his feet, so
that he pressed him sore, in so much that he might not abide in any
place. By force Sir Bran de Lis brought his foeman to his knees, and
ere he might rise he must perforce yield himself captive. Thus he led
him to the pavilion, and made gift of him to Arthur, who received him
well, and thanked the lord of Lis right heartily.

Then the king bade them make a lodge of boughs, with curtains round
about, whereto they led the wounded knight to rest, for much need had
he of repose. King Arthur and his men disarmed Sir Bran de Lis gaily,
and he washed himself, and they made great sport all day long. And
when it came to the freshness of the evening they went forth to
disport themselves; many a valiant knight sat there, round about the
king, in the shade of an olive tree.

Then they heard the sound of those who blew loudly on the horn and
played upon the flageolet; there was no instrument befitting a watch
the music of which was not to be heard within the castle, and much joy
they made therein. The king was the more wakeful by night in that he
took pleasure in the fair melody which the watchmen who sounded the
horn made in answering the one the other.

Beside the lord of Lys sat Kay, who hearkened to the music, nor might
he long keep silence, but must needs speak his mind. "Sire," quoth he,
"by Saint Denis, meseemeth the joust be forgotten, for this eve none
hath demanded it; the king hath neither companion nor peer who hath so
far prayed it, I wot none be desirous thereof!"

"Kay," quoth the King, "I grant thee the joust."

"Sire," quoth Kay, "by Saint Martin, I were liever to handle a spit
than a spear to-morrow; I thank ye for naught! Nevertheless, Sire, an
such be your pleasure I will do it, by the faith I owe to my lord Sir
Gawain." Then all laughed at Kay's words, and when they had made sport
enow of him they gat them back to the tent.

Thus the night passed, and on the morrow at dawn, ere prime had rung,
the king hearkened Mass, and when they had dined they armed the
seneschal, and he mounted, and took his shield, and departed from them
swiftly. No sooner had he come to the meadow when a knight, right well
armed, came forth from the castle, and rode on to the field. They
smote each other on the shields so that they fell to the ground, and
springing up lightly they fell to with their sharp swords; right
dourly they pressed on each other, and smote sounding blows on the
helms. He of the castle struck wrathfully at Kay, and the seneschal
caught the blow, and the knight smote again on the boss of the shield
so that the blade brake, notwithstanding he had so pressed on the
seneschal that he made him by force to pass the boundary of the four
olives, which stood at the corners of the field.

There the knight stayed him, and turned him back to his steed which
was in the midst of the meadow, and remounted, and took Kay's horse,
for he saw well 'twas a good steed, and led it away, none gainsaying
him. Kay went his way back, and knew not that he had been deceived,
but deemed he had won the day, though in sooth he was vanquished.

Then the knights spake unto the king, "Sire, let us go to meet Kay,
and make merry over him; 'twill be rare sport to mislead him!" The
king was right willing, so they went in company towards the seneschal.

The king went ahead, as one wise and courteous, and spake gently,
"Kay, hast thou come from far? Has mischance befallen thee?" and Kay,
who was ever sharp and ready of tongue, answered, "Sire, let me be; ye
have naught wherewith to reproach me. I have vanquished one of their
knights, but he hath taken my horse; the field is mine, for I have
conquered it; and he who hath ridden hence hath the worse!" All held
their peace, and laughed not.

"Sir, are ye in need of help?" quoth Tor fis Ares. And then the others
spake; "Seneschal, are ye wounded?" "Methinks ye limp somewhat," quoth
Sir Gawain.

"Kay, hand me your shield," said Sir Ywain. "Right valiantly have ye
approved yourself, marvellous were the blows I saw ye deal! God be
thanked that ye did thus well!" With that he took the shield, and hung
it around his own neck. Each joined in the sport as best he might, and
Kay was right well aware thereof.

Then he spake to Sir Ywain, "Sir, I will grant ye to-morrow so much as
I have won to-day, the joust and the field shall ye have in exchange
for my shield which ye bear. Ye can do well, an ye will, and I were
fain to repay ye in such wise as I may."

Those who heard might not refrain their mirth, and in merry mood they
led him to the tent, and disarmed him, and the lord of Lys said, "Sir
Kay, ye passed the boundary of the four olive trees, and he who first
passes betwixt them is held for vanquished." And Kay answered, "May
be, Sir, by the faith I owe the King of Heaven an ye know the differ
'twixt entry and exit 'tis more than I may do; sure, 'tis all one, for
there where one cometh in the other goeth out!"

Suddenly there rang forth from the castle and the minster a peal so
great and glad that ye might scarce hear God thunder, and the king
asked wherefore the bells rang thus.

Then Bran de Lis spake, "I will tell ye, Sire: 'tis Saturday to-day,
and now that noon be past they within will do naught against ye, come
what may. In this land is the Mother of God more honoured than
elsewhere in Christendom; know of a truth that ye shall presently see
knights and ladies, burgesses and other folk, clad in their best,
betake them to the minster; they go to hear Vespers, and do honour to
Our Lady. Thus it is from noon on Saturday till Tierce on Monday, when
Mass is sung, and the bells chimed throughout the burg, then they get
them to their tasks again; the minstrels and other folk. I tell ye
without fail till then shall no joust be ridden; to-morrow, an ye
will, ye may go forth to hunt in the forest."

The king praised the custom much, and spent the night with a light
heart until the morn, when he arose, and with his knights betook him
to the woods, and all day long the forest rang to the sound of the
huntsman's horn.

Now it chanced that Sir Gawain beheld a great stag, which two of his
hounds had severed from the rest of the herd, and he followed hard
after the chase till that the quarry was pulled down in a clearing.
There he slew and quartered it, and gave their portion to the dogs,
but would take with him naught save the back and sides. So he rode on
fairly, and without annoy, the hounds running ahead, till, as he went
his way, he heard nigh at hand a hawk cry loudly. Then he turned him
quickly towards the sound, and came on to a wide and dusky path, and
followed it speedily to a dwelling, the fairest he had found in any
land wherein he had sojourned.

'Twas set in the midst of a clearing, and no wish or thought of man
might devise aught that was lacking unto it. There was a fair hall and
a strong tower, 'twas set round about with palisades, and there was a
good drawbridge over the moat, which was wide enow, and full of
running water. At the entry of the bridge was a pine-tree, and
beneath, on a fair carpet, sat a knight; never had ye seen one so
tall, or so proud of bearing.

Sir Gawain rode straight and fast to him, but he stirred no whit for
his coming, but sat still, frowning and thoughtful. Sir Gawain
marvelled at his stature, and spake very courteously, "Sir, God save
ye!" But the stranger answered nor loud nor low, having no mind for
speech. Thrice Sir Gawain greeted him, but he answered not, and the
good knight stayed his steed full before him, but he made no semblance
of seeing him.

Quoth Sir Gawain, "Ha, God, who hath made man with Thine own hand,
wherefore didst Thou make this man so fair if he be deaf and dumb? So
tall is he, and so well fashioned he is like unto a giant. An I had a
comrade with me I would lead him hence, even unto the king; methinks
he would thank me well, for he would look on him as a marvel!" And he
bethought him that he would even bear the knight hence with him on his
steed. Thus he laid his venison beneath a tree, and bent him downwards
from his saddlebow, and took the other by the shoulders, and raised
him a little.

Then the knight clapped hand to his side, but his sword was lacking,
and he cried, "Who may ye be? It lacked but little and I had slain ye
with my fist, since ye have snatched me from death; had I my sword
here 'twere red with your blood! Get ye hence, vassal, and leave me to
my death."

Then he sat him again under the tree, and fell a-musing, even as when
Sir Gawain found him. And that good knight, without more ado, reloaded
his venison and turned him back, leaving the knight sad and sorrowful.

Scarce had Sir Gawain ridden half a league when he saw coming towards
him a maiden, fair and courteous, on a great Norman palfrey; nor king
nor count had been better horsed. The bridle, the harness, the
trappings of her steed were beyond price, nor might I tell ye how
richly the maiden was clad. Her vesture was of cloth of gold, the
buttons of Moorish work, wrought in silk with golden pendants. The
lady smote her steed oft and again, and rode past Sir Gawain with
never a word of greeting.

Sir Gawain marvelled much at her haste, and that she had failed to
speak with him, and he turned him about, and rode after, crying "Stay
a little, Lady!" but she answered not, but made the more haste.

Then Sir Gawain overtook her, and rode alongside, saying, "Lady, stay,
and tell me whither ye be bound." Then she made answer, "Sir, for
God's sake, hinder me not, for an ye do I tell ye of a truth I shall
have slain the best and the fairest knight in any castle of
Christendom!"

"What," quoth Sir Gawain, "have ye slain him with your own hands?"

"I, sir? God forbid, but I made covenant with him yesterday that I
would be with him ere noon, and now have I failed of my compact. He
awaiteth me at a tower near by, mine own true love, the best knight
in the world!"

"Certes, Lady, he is yet alive, of that am I true witness; 'twas but
now he well nigh dealt me a buffet with his fist! Make not such
haste!"

"Fair sir, are ye sure and certain?"

"Yea, Lady, but he was sore bemused."

"Then know of a truth, Sir Knight, that he may no longer be alive, and
I may not tarry." With that she struck her steed and rode off apace.
Sir Gawain gazed after her, and it vexed him much that he had not
asked more concerning the knight, whence he came, his land and his
name, but knew neither beginning nor end of his story.

Thus he went on his way, and came again to the pavilion where his
companions awaited him, sore perplexed at his delay, and were right
joyful when they beheld him. Then straightway he told them the
adventure, even as it had chanced, and when the lord of Lys heard it
he said unto the King, "Sire, the knight is the Rich Soudoier, he who
maintaineth all this goodly following and seignorie; and so much doth
he love the maiden whom he calleth his lady and his love, that all
men say he will die an he win her not."

As he spake they beheld a great cloud of dust arise toward the forest,
and there rode past so great a company of folk there cannot have been
less than twenty thousand; there was left in the city not a soul who
might well stir thence who went not forth of right good will toward
the forest. 'Twas nigh unto nightfall ere all had entered therein.

Then the king asked whither all this folk were bound, and Bran de Lis
answered, "Sire, they go to meet their lord, and to do him honour, for
never before this hath he led his lady hither. I tell ye of a truth
that each one of his barons will dub three new knights, to honour and
pleasure him, for so have they sworn, and for that doth he owe them
right good will."

What more may I tell ye? All night they held great feast through the
city, with many lights in castle, tower, and hall. They blazed upon
the walls, the trees, and round about the meadows, till that the great
burg seemed all aflame, and all night long they heard the sound of
song and loud rejoicing.

Then the king betook him to rest, and at dawn Sir Ywain prayed as
gift the joust which Kay had given unto him. The king made no
gainsaying, but after meat they armed their comrade well and
fittingly, and he mounted quickly, and took shield and lance; nor did
he long await a foe, for there rode forth from the castle one well
armed, on a strong and swift steed, and spurred upon Sir Ywain. He
smote him so that his lance brake, and Sir Ywain smote him again with
such force that he bare him to earth ere that his lance failed. Then
he rode upon him with unsheathed sword, and by weight of his steed
bare him to earth when he had fain arisen, and trod him underfoot so
hardly that, whether he would or no, he must needs yield. Then Sir
Ywain took his pledge, and led him without more ado to the pavilion,
and delivered him to the king.

Such was the day's gain, but know that 'twas one of the new made
knights, not of the mesnie of the Rich Soudoier. And when he was
disarmed the king spake unto him in the hearing of all his men, and
said, "Fair friend, whence do ye come, and of what land may ye be?"

Then he answered, "Sire, I am of Ireland, and son to the Count
Brangelis, and ever have I served the lady of the Rich Soudoier. She
bade me carve before her, and my lord for love of her yestermorn made
me knight, and as guerdon for my service they granted me the joust;
yet, but for my lady who prayed for me this grace, they had not given
it to me, since within the walls there be many a good man and true who
was sore vexed thereat."

"Friend," quoth Sir Gawain, "know ye, perchance, the which of them
shall joust on the morrow?"

"Certes, Sir, I should know right well; 'tis the lord of the castle
himself who shall be first on the field, and I will tell ye how I know
this. 'Tis the custom therein that each morn the maidens mount the
walls, and she who first beholds the armed knight take the field, 'tis
her knight who shall ride forth against him. Yestereven my lady
assembled all the maidens and prayed of them that they would let her
alone mount the wall--thus shall the joust be as I tell ye."

Straightway Sir Gawain sprang to his feet, and went before the king,
and demanded the joust, but Arthur forbade him saying, "Fair nephew,
ye shall not go to-morrow, but later, ere it be my turn, 'tis for us
twain to ride the last jousts; ye shall have it when all save I have
proved themselves."

"Sire, Sire, I shall be sore shamed an ye deny me this gift; never
more shall I be joyful, nor will I ride joust in this land, but will
get me hence alone!"

Quoth the king, "An it be thus ye may have it." And Sir Gawain
answered, "I thank ye, Sire."

Thus they passed the night, and at daybreak, when the dew lay thick
upon the grass, Sir Gawain arose, and Sir Ywain with him. Know that
the morning was so fine, so fair and clear, as if 'twere made to be
gazed on. Then he who was no coward washed face and hands and feet in
the dew, and gat him back to the pavilion. There they brought him a
wadded vest, of purple, bordered with samite, and he donned it, and
fastened on his armlets deftly.

And ere he was fully armed the king his uncle had risen, and they gat
them to Mass, and when Mass was said, to meat. When they had well
dined they bade bring thither the armour, and Sir Gawain sat him on a
rich carpet, spread on the ground in the midst of the tent, and there
was never a knight but stood around uncovered, till that he had armed
him at his leisure with all that pertaineth to assault and defence, so
that he had naught to do save but to set forth.

Then they led unto him his steed, all covered with a rich trapping,
and he mounted, and sat thereon, so goodly to look upon that never
might ye hear speak of a fairer knight. Excalibur, his good sword, did
King Arthur hand to him, and he girt it round him as he sat on the
saddle, lightly, so that it vexed him not. Then he took shield and
lance, and departed from them, making great speed for the meadow.

Now the adventure telleth that he had been there but short space when
from the master tower of the castle a horn was sounded long and clear,
so that for a league around the earth quivered by reason of the echo
of the blast, and Sir Bran de Lis spake to the king, "Sire, in short
space shall ye see the Rich Soudoier come forth armed on his steed,
for they sound not the horn thus save for his arming. I know well by
the long blast that he laceth on his spurs."

Then the horn sounded a second time, and he said, "By my faith, now
hath he donned and laced his greaves."

For a long space there was silence, and again the horn rang forth so
loudly that all the castle re-echoed, and the lord of Lys said, "Sire,
now hath he donned his hauberk and laced his helm." With that the horn
sounded once again, "Now, Sire, he is mounted, and the horn will be
blown no more to-day."

This had the good knight told them truly, for the burg was all astir:
he who bare lordship therein rode proudly down from the castle, and
after him so many of his folk that they of the pavilion heard the
sound of their tread, though they might not behold them. Even to the
gate they bare him company, and as he issued forth the king's men
beheld him covered with a silken robe, even to his spurs, his banner
in his hand. Then they saw a great crowd mount to the battlements to
watch the combat of the twain; the walls were covered even to the
gateways, so that 'twas a marvel to behold.

Thus the lord of the castle came proudly to the meadow where Sir
Gawain awaited him, and when he saw him he gripped his shield tightly,
and made ready for the onslaught. Then they laid their lances in rest,
and shook forth their blazons, and smote their spurs into their
steeds; nor did the joust fail, for they came together with such force
of steed and shield and body that, an they would or no, both came to
the ground in mid meadow and the good steeds fell over them. But the
twain were full of valour, and arose up lightly, and drew their
swords, and ran boldly on each other. Then might ye behold a dour
combat, and a sight for many folk, for with great wrath they dealt
each other mighty blows, so that all who beheld were astonied, and the
king was in sore dread for his nephew, and they of the castle for
their lord.

From either side many a prayer went up to Heaven that their champion
might return safe and whole. And the twain spared not themselves, but
each with shining blade smote the other, so that their strength waned
apace. For know that that day there was so great a heat that never
since hath the like been known, and that heat vexed and weakened them
sore.

Now know ye of a certain truth that my lord Sir Gawain waxed ever in
strength, doubling his force from midnight, and even till noon was
past and the day waned did his strength endure, but then he somewhat
weakened till 'twas midnight again. This I tell ye of a truth, 'twas
early morn that they fought thus in the meadow, and greatly did this
gift aid him, and great evil it wrought to the Rich Soudoier. Neither
had conquered aught on the other till it waxed high noon. If the one
dealt mighty blows the other knew right well how to return them with
wrath and vigour; 'twas hard to say the which were the better, and all
marvelled much that neither was as yet or slain or put to the worse.

'Twas the Soudoier who first gave ground; by reason of the over great
heat so sore a thirst seized him that he might no longer endure the
heavy blows, and well nigh fell to the earth. When Sir Gawain felt his
foe thus weakening he pressed him the more, till that he staggered on
his feet, and Sir Gawain ran on him with such force that both fell to
the ground. But the king's nephew sprang to his feet lightly and
cried, "Vassal, yield ye prisoner ere I slay ye!" but his foe was so
dazed that for a space he might speak no word.

When he gat breath and speech he sighed forth, "Ah, God, who will slay
me? Since she be dead I care naught for my life."

Sir Gawain wondered much what the words might mean, and he shook him
by the vizor, and when he saw that he took no heed he spake again,
"Sir Knight, yield to me!" And he sighed, "Suddenly was she slain who
was fairest in the world; I loved her with a passing great love!"

When Sir Gawain saw that he would answer none otherwise, conjure him
as he might, he cut the laces of his helmet, and saw that he lay with
his eyes closed as one in a swoon; by reason of the great heat and his
sore thirst he had lost all colour, and was senseless. Sir Gawain was
vexed in that he might not win from him speech, neither by word nor by
blow, yet was he loth to slay him; nor would he leave him lying; for
he thought an he slew him he might lose all he would gain by his
victory, and should he get him back to the pavilion to seek aid to
bear his prisoner hence, on his return he would surely find him gone.
Thus was he much perplexed in mind. Then he doffed his helm, and sat
him down beside the knight, sheathing Excalibur, and taking the sword
of his foe. In a short space the Soudoier came again to himself, and
seeing him sit thus, asked of him his name. Then he answered
straightway, and when the other knew 'twas Gawain, he said, "Sir, now
know I for a certainty that ye be the best knight in the world." Then
he held his peace, and spake no further, and Sir Gawain looked upon
him, and said, "Fair Sir Knight, bear me no ill will for aught ye may
have heard me say, but come with me, an ye will, to yonder pavilion,
and we will take your pledge."

Then the Rich Soudoier answered, "I have a lady I love more than my
life, and if she die then must I needs die too, so soon as I hear tell
thereof. I pray ye, sir, for God's sake, for love's sake, for
gentleness, for courtesy, save me my love that she die not, by
covenant that, whether for right or for wrong, no man of the Castle
Orguellous shall henceforth be against ye. Fair sir, an ye will do for
me that which I now pray, I will pledge my faith to do all the king's
will, nor shall there be therein man of arms whom I will not make
swear the same. But an if my lady knew thereof, as God be my witness,
she would die straightway, for never would she believe that ye had
conquered me; 'tis truth I tell ye! Now of your courtesy, Sir Knight,
I pray of ye this great service, that ye come back with me to the
castle, that ye there do me honour, and kneeling to my lady declare ye
her prisoner; an ye will thus make feint and say I have vanquished ye
in fair field, then shall ye save my life, and that of my most sweet
lady, and if ye will not do thus, then slay me here and now!"

Then that gentle knight, Sir Gawain, remembered him of how he had
found him aforetime in the forest beneath the tower, and how the
maiden who rode to keep tryst feared for his life, and he knew that he
loved his lady with so great a love that he would die an she knew him
to be shamed, and he thought within himself 'twas over much cruelty to
slay so good a knight, and he answered. "Fair sir, certes will I go
with ye to the Castle Orguellous, and there yield me captive, nor will
I forbear for any doubt or misgiving. It might well turn to my shame,
but even if I should die thereby, I would not, Sir Knight, that ye or
your lady be wronged or aggrieved."

Then the knight spake frankly, "Sir, I am your liege man all the days
of my life." And he gave him his hand, and sware straitly that he
would do all the king's pleasure. And when Sir Gawain had taken his
oath, straightway the two mounted their steeds and betook them to the
Castle Orguellous.

Well nigh did King Arthur die of wrath when he saw his nephew ride
hence, and he cried, "Now am I indeed bereft if my nephew be led
therein; now will they hold him prisoner! Think ye, my lords, that he
be of a truth captive?"

"Yea, Sire, of a faith, so it seemeth, yet are we greatly in marvel
thereat, for we know certainly that he had vanquished and overthrown
his adversary. Never so great an ill hap hath befallen any knight, for
ere the knight of the castle rose we said surely that he was
conquered!"

The king had no heart to hearken longer, but betook him straightway to
his bed; cause enow had he for woe, or so it seemed him!

But they of the castle sped joyously to meet their lord, whom they
thought to have lost, and ran to bear the tidings to the lady, who was
well nigh distraught with grief, and anger, and they told her that her
lord came again. "And he leadeth by the bridle, as one conquered, Sir
Gawain!"

Even at these words came the knights unto the gateway, and dismounted,
and Sir Gawain speedily yielded him prisoner to the maiden, saying,
"Lady, take here my sword, and know of a proven truth that this good
knight, your true lover, hath vanquished me by force of arms."

Never since the hour ye were born did ye see such rejoicing as the
maiden made, and the Rich Soudoier spake, saying, "Ride ye to my
castle of Bouvies with five hundred knights, and make ready the
chambers. I will be with ye to-morrow, and would fain sojourn there;
we will have but few folk with us. Marvel not at this, for to-day have
I been over much wearied."

And the maiden answered, "Ye have well said; the castle is very fair
and pleasant." With that she was mounted, and the knights set forth to
convoy her to the castle. And know ye why he sent her hence? 'Twas
that he might tell his men the truth of what had passed.

When the lady had departed 'twas made known throughout the castle how
the matter had in very truth fallen out, and the lord bade release the
son of Do, and the butler, and they did his bidding. But when Sir
Gawain saw Giflet he ran towards him, and kissed him more than a
hundred times, and made marvellous great joy of him. Then they sat
them down on a bench, side by side, and held converse together. And
when the twain who had fought were disarmed they brought for the four
very fair robes of rich and royal cloth; never had ye seen such. Then
the Soudoier bade saddle four steeds, and they mounted, and rode thus
adown the street.

Thus they four alone took their way to the pavilion, and the king's
men beheld them, even as they came forth from the castle gateway, and
Sir Ywain cried, "By my faith, and no lie, I see four men come hither,
and all four be knights, so it seemeth me!" And Kay answered, "I see
them too!"

And when they came so near to the pavilion that their faces might be
seen, Sir Ywain ran joyfully to the king. "Sire, Sire, an God help me,
here cometh Sir Gawain, and with him three others, all hand in hand:
there be the son of Do, and Sir Lucains, and for the fourth a great
knight!"

The king answered no word, but made semblance as if he heard not, and
rose not from his couch, save that he raised himself somewhat higher
thereon.

In a little space he spake to his knights, "Be not over dismayed, but
make as fair a countenance as ye may; methinks they come thither to
bid us return with them to prison, but I go not hence ere that I be
vanquished, or have freed my comrades." And all answered, "Well
spoken, Sire!"

But now had the four come so nigh that they had dismounted, and come
before the king; never was seen such rejoicing as his lord made of
Giflet, but now was he in sore distress, and, lo! his sorrow was
turned to joy! Why should I lie to ye? The Rich Soudoier told him how
Sir Gawain had conquered him, and how, by his courtesy, he had given
life to him and to his fair lady; and the king hearkened to the tale
right willingly.

Now will I leave speaking of them, but this much will I say, that well
might the lord of the castle love and cherish him who first overcame
him by arms and then did him so great honour as to yield him to his
lady so that his life might thereby be saved. So here will I hold my
peace, no, nor speak further, save to tell ye that now was the king
lord alike of the Castle Orguellous and the lands around; never in all
his days did he make so great a conquest, as Bleheris doth witness to
us.



Notes


Page 3.--_The knights rode gaily ahead._ This episode, in practically
identical form, is found as the introduction to the head-cutting
challenge, of which in Wauchier's compilation Carados is the hero.
This double use of the same incident appears to me significant in face
of the fact that the 'Carados' story is an inferior version of our
'_Syr Gawayne and the Grene Knyghte_.' It seems to me most probable
that our poem represents an elaborated version of an adventure which
originally formed part of the compilation utilised by Wauchier in his
continuation of the '_Perceval_,' and that the passage here given
formed the introductory episode of the group.

Page 5.--_At Carnarvon._ In some of the texts Carduel is substituted
for Carnarvon.

Page 5.--_Galvoie, a land where many a man goeth astray._ For the
mysterious character attached to Galvoie (Galloway), and its
connection with the Other-world, cf. '_Legend of Sir Perceval_,' pp.
186-192.

Page 7.--_When Sir Gawain beheld this._ There are two distinct
versions of Arthur's rebuke to his knights; the one given in the text
is found in B.N. 12576 (the source of this translation), B.N. 1429,
Edinburgh, and Montpellier. The other version, in which Arthur refuses
to explain what he means, and locks himself in his 'loge,' the door
of which is broken open by his indignant knights, who insist upon
knowing the reason of his accusation, is found in B.N. 12577; 794;
1453; and Mons. This latter version seems to me an unintelligent
expansion of that in our text. Arthur's desire is to incite his
knights to the rescue of their comrade, not to heap unnecessary insult
upon them. The fact that here Ywain is specially coupled with Gawain
should be noted. Ywain is one of the earliest of Arthurian heroes,
appearing in the chronicles; whenever we find him in a position of
importance there is at least the possibility that we are dealing with
the survival of an early and genuine Arthurian tradition.

Page 15.--_Now will I tell ye their names._ The list of knights taking
part in the expedition varies somewhat in the different texts. It is
noteworthy that Lancelot is occasionally omitted, and that nowhere
does he hold a prominent position. This group of stories was
manifestly composed at a period when that hero was still practically
unknown to Arthurian tradition.

Page 16.--_One day the king came forth from a very great forest._ An
English version of the adventure which follows will be found in Sir
Frederick Madden's '_Syr Gawayne_,' under the title of '_Kay and the
Spit_.'

Page 25.--_The tale is here over long._ Throughout the whole section
devoted by Wauchier to the _Gawain_ in contradistinction to the
_Perceval_ adventures, there are constant references to the length and
importance of the '_grand conte_' of which they formed a part. There
are numerous 'Perilous Cemeteries' in Arthurian romance, _e.g._ there
is one in the prose _Lancelot_, which Hector and Gawain attempt, and
are worsted: another in _Perlesvaus_, and a third forms the subject of
a special poem, '_L'Atre Perilleus_.' Of this last Gawain is the hero.
There is a cemetery connected with the adventure of the Chapel of the
Black Hand, and one in the _Queste_. It is impossible to determine the
tale to which the compiler here alludes.

Page 28.--_Esterlins_, _besants_, &c. The original is _Esterlins,
porpres, e besans, Deniers de muce e d'aufricains_. The correct
translation is doubtful. _Porpres_ is a texture, and seems to be out
of place among an enumeration of coins. '_Deniers de muce_' is found
in no dictionary or article on coins. _Muce_ may signify _a hiding
place_, hence the treasure-trove of the translation; or, as M. Paul
Meyer suggests, _muce_ may be an error for _murcie_, which would be
the equivalent of Spanish, at that period Saracen, money. Du Cange,
under the heading of '_Africanus_,' gives '_Moneta Saracenorum_.' It
is noteworthy that the MSS. of later date omit these lines.

Page 29.--_Grails of silver._ This is the only instance I know in
which the word _Grail_ is used in a general sense, and it is of value
as indicating the meaning which the writers of that period attached to
the word.

Page 38.--_Ider de Lis._ The father's name is more generally given as
Norres de Lis. Llys is the Welsh for castle, and the spelling of the
word varies in the texts. Brandelis is, as a rule, written in one
word, and spelt with an _i_; when the castle alone is spoken of it is
written Lys. I have endeavoured to indicate this peculiarity in the
translation. Cf. Gawain's appeal to his uncle to eat, and Arthur's
refusal, with _Arthur_ and _Gorlagon_ published by Prof. Kittredge;
cf. _Folk-Lore_, March 1904, where a translation of this curious tale,
with explanatory comment, is given.

Page 41.--_A comrade for Huden._ Huden, or Hudenc, is Tristan's dog.
The reference is interesting, as showing a knowledge of the _Tristan_
story on the part of the compiler. That hero, however, plays no part
in this group of tales.

Page 48.--_There came forth a damosel._ The lady's name is not given
here, but later on she is called Guilorete, and in other texts
Gloriete.


II

Page 63.--_Castle Orguellous._ This adventure, under the title of
'_Gawain and Golagros_,' will be found in Madden's '_Syr Gawayne_,'
but the version is much condensed. In the English poem Espinogres
plays the _rôle_ here assigned to Bran de Lis, and explains the
customs of the castle.

Page 70.--_'Tis ill done to summon evil._ The original gives '_On ne
doit pas mal senechier_.' This latter word appears to be unknown. I
submitted the passage to M. Paul Meyer, who thinks it may be a fault
of the copyist; at the same time, Godefroi gives the noun
_senechiance_ as equivalent to _segnefiance_, and a verb may have been
constructed from this. The corresponding passage in B.N. 12577 runs
'_Nul ne doit le mal prononcier_.' In an article in _Folk-Lore_ for
March 1907, Miss Goodrich Freer quotes a Gaelic proverb, 'Ill will
come if mentioned.' This seems to be the equivalent of our text.

Page 87.--_A horn was sounded._ In the English version a small bell is
rung. Much less stress is laid upon the arming of the knight, which
here is a most picturesque and effective passage.

Page 93.--_When that gentle knight Sir Gawain._ Gawain's extreme
courtesy, and the consequent dismay of the king, are related in much
the same terms, but more condensed, in the English poem. It seems
possible that it was this adventure of the Rich Soudoier which
suggested the figure of Galehault, '_le haut prince_' in the prose
Lancelot. Both are distinguished for their height, their beauty, and
their opposition to Arthur. Both, alike, became the King's friends
through the courtesy and feigned submission of the knights Gawain and
Lancelot. The parallel is worth working out.

Page 98.--_As Bleheris doth witness to us._ Other forms of the name
are Bleobleheris (B.N. 1453) and Bliobliheri (B.N. Add. 36614). This
latter MS. at a later stage of the same collection again cites
Bleheris as authority for the story of Gawain and the magic shield; he
is there said to have been born and brought up in Wales. He is
probably identical with the Bledhericus mentioned by Giraldus
Cambrensis as a famous story teller, '_famosus ille fabulator_.' For a
full discussion of the whole question see my _Legend of Sir Perceval_.


    Printed by Ballantyne & Co. Limited
         Tavistock Street, London



Transcriber's Note

Archaic spelling is preserved as printed.

Hyphenation has been made consistent.

Typographic errors have been amended as follows:

    Page 5--thoughout amended to throughout--... and all the
    barons throughout the land ...

    Page 7--Yder amended to Ydier--... nephew was he to king
    Ydier, ...

    Page 15--Lucans amended to Lucains--... Kay, and Lucains, the
    butler.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.

Repeated titles have been deleted.





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